*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Cari lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on myWW™.
As told to Hilary Weissman
Weight became an issue for me the minute my family got the Internet. Along with my sister, Jamie, I had always been an outdoor kid—riding bikes, playing in creeks and fields, exploring for hours with our dogs. For me, though, getting Internet access in middle school changed all that. I’d log in and remain sedentary for hours, messaging my friends in chat rooms.
My weight rose accordingly. At 5’9”, I felt like the biggest person wherever I went. My health was affected, as well. One day in high school, I was lying on the couch when my heart started pounding; I could feel my blood pressure, even though I hadn’t exerted myself. That didn’t feel right.
Years later, I mentioned my concerns to my doctor at a check up. Her advice: Eat less, move for an hour a day, and “do what you can do.” I think she wanted it to sound simple and reasonable; the problem was, I didn’t have a plan or structure to help me do that.
Learning the ropes
I thought back to when I briefly enrolled in WW at my mom's suggestion, right after graduating from high school in 2003. The experience was positive, but I wasn’t ready to work the plan at that point. Once freshman year of college started, I just wanted to be "normal" and scarf nachos with my friends. You can imagine how that turned out.
I had more success when I rejoined WW in 2008. That’s when I really learned about cooking meals and planning ahead. I also learned about the power of community. As an introvert, I don’t have the easiest time meeting new people. Workshops helped. Did we all share cooking tips? Sure. Could we talk about two-ingredient dough for 30 solid minutes? You bet. But just as important, Workshops were a buoy to my spirit and made me feel like I was part of something.
I started a running regimen around that time by following a basic 5K plan for beginners. Over months, I worked up to the 5K, then to 6 miles a day. My mom teased me and said, "Why not just do a half-marathon? You’re halfway there." So, that’s how I went from newbie runner in 2008 to half-marathon finisher in 2011. From there, I completed 10 more half-marathons.
A difficult setback
After about five years of successfully following WW, I reached a point in 2013 where I was maintaining my weight loss and running more than Forrest Gump. I figured my activity level could cover any "whoops!" that came my way. The ego is powerful, folks. I thought, "I can maintain on my own. I know exactly what to eat and how much to eat. I got this."
Things took a tragic turn in January 2015, when my dad passed away from cancer. His death hit me really hard. I knew I should’ve been taking care of myself and talking to people—friends, family, a counselor—but instead I went into a grief cave. I looked for comfort in the fridge and numbed out with TV and social media.
I was still running through it all. My best friend, Thea, and I signed up for another half-marathon. The training was a struggle; I quickly became frustrated with my weight. My inner voice started working overtime to tell me awful things about myself. On one of our training runs, Thea finally told me, “You’re being murderously mean to yourself.” She was right. I needed to hear that.
I decided to rejoin WW as a Digital member on October 1, 2017. I wasn’t ready for in-person Workshops at that point because I still didn’t feel great about myself.
That first week, I tracked some of the foods I had gotten used to eating. I thought everything would fit easily into my SmartPoints® Budget. But after looking up my usual foods and restaurant menu items, as well as using the barcode scanner in the WW app, I saw how off-base my estimates were. The “natural” morning cereal I loved? It was actually filled with sugar that made the SmartPoints skyrocket.
I made some adjustments, starting with adding more ZeroPoint™ foods to my day. It became a fun challenge to make SmartPoints-friendly versions of the things I already liked to eat.
I also got into the mindset pillar of the program. One thing that’s stayed with me is the habit loop: cue, behavior, outcome. My loop used to be: Feel sad, go to the fridge or pantry, numb my feelings, repeat. Now I know I can replace food with something like a walk or a phone call to a friend—unless I’m truly hungry, of course.
I also started to see a counselor and reconnect with my family. How we think really does affect what we do. I was so stuck in my spiral that I couldn't see through my grief.
With about four months of tracking, moving, and taking better care of myself, I lost 36 pounds*. I’ll never forget one moment in the grocery store when I ran down the pet aisle to pick up a bag of dog food. It felt so heavy—and happened to weigh 36 pounds. Holding all the weight I lost was motivation to keep going.
What Cari ate then vs. now
Restaurant-style sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich; coffee with heavy cream; pastries; sugary cereal
Cauliflower oatmeal made with riced cauliflower, egg whites, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and a scoop of protein; butternut bowl with roasted squash, pumpkin puree, protein powder, peanut butter powder, and frozen blueberries
Chicken sandwich with bacon, avocado, cheese, spicy mayo, and lettuce on a ciabatta with a bag of chips
Chicken salad with celery, grapes, and green onions with a side of crackers; BLT with bacon, mustard, mayo, and turkey on light bread
Orange chicken with stir-fried rice; frozen pizza; sushi; turkey cheeseburgers
Turkey chili; my own casserole recipe of shredded chicken, frozen broccoli, frozen riced cauliflower, and fat-free cream of chicken soup, all topped with crumbled corn cereal; burrito bowls with chicken, guacamole, salsa, cheese, riced cauliflower or rice
Candy, pretzels, chips, soda, chips and salsa, cheese
White cheddar rice cakes; veggies and dip made with fat-free yogurt and ranch powder; light string cheese; a healthier charcuterie board with shrimp, veggies, grapes, apple slices, mandarins, pickles, and light crackers
A new why
Though vanity was an early reason for wanting to lose weight, I had more than one why at this point: I wanted to be strong and keep up with my sister’s kids. My sister, Jamie, and I are very close now. My nephew is 5 years old, and my niece is 3; my sister also has two stepdaughters, 12 and 9 years old.
Their community in Arizona has amazing hiking opportunities, and I didn’t want to miss out on those experiences when I visited. Jamie's family also has a pool, and I didn't want to be self-conscious or an unhealthy role model for the kids when we were swimming.
Jamie is a personal trainer and suggested I lift weights to build up my strength. She started sending me strength-training workouts through an app she used, and I really enjoyed them! Arm day is still my favorite. It’s rewarding to feel my body change when I put in the work.
Expanding the circle
I was loving my Digital member experience and wanted to find a way to grow my WW community. I started an Instagram account called @WWgirlmeetsworld, which became my platform for sharing struggles and successes with people going through the same things. This was before Connect groups!
In June 2018, I decided to become a Workshop + Digital member. I missed the in-person community and the experience of having a WW Coach. So much of the human experience is universal. If my voice in the room can help open up a conversation about a sensitive topic that resonates, I'm happy to be that gal!
I stopped striving for perfection and focused on progress instead. I reached my goal in July 2018, having lost 54 pounds*. I saw so much power in the Workshops that I decided to become a WW Coach later that year.
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Sharing the health
Everyone around me knows about my WW journey and is so supportive. Even at work gatherings—we’ll have fruit and veggie trays as options. One time, we even had a “cake” that was carved from a watermelon! I’ve inspired some coworkers to join WW, and I am so proud when they share their progress with me.
I’m much kinder to myself than I was before. I walk confidently into every room. There are no more “murderously mean” moments. I fall down sometimes, but that’s normal. I’m grateful to have a community that lifts me back up. Honestly, how cool is that?
Explore more WW member transformations here.